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T H E N E X T G E N E R AT I O N O F B A K A P PA R E L

FA L L’ S H O T T E ST L I C E N S E D P R O P E R T I E S

JUNE 201 4 $10.00

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sales@unitedlegwear.com 212-391-4143 EARN_June2014.indd 3

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JUNE 2014

Noelle Heffernan Publisher Audrey Goodson Kingo Editor in Chief Nancy Campbell Trevett McCandliss Creative Directors

FEATURES 16 Family Affair Second-generation store owner Denise Kort carries on her parents’ legacy at Connie’s Children’s Shop, a Michigan mainstay for over 60 years.

EDITORIAL Angela Velasquez Fashion Editor Lyndsay McGregor Associate Editor Social Media Editor Samantha Sciarrotta Assistant Editor

22 Mass Appeal With more than 30 years of experience in the children’s industry, Barry Kottler, president of BAK Apparel, understands what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s challenging retail climate.

26 Royal Rebels Tween punk princesses reign supreme when grit meets glamour.

18 On Trend 36 Behind the Seams 40 Stargazing

On the cover: Reina Mora blouse, Zara Terez jewel print skirt over Tutu Couture petticoat, Mischka Aoki charm necklace, TicTacToe tights distressed by stylist, Dr. Martens patent boots.

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Jennifer Craig Special Accounts Manager PRODUCTION Tim Jones Deputy Art Director Production Manager

FASHION

4 Editor’s Note 6 Talking Points 10 Hot Properties 14 Fresh Finds

ADVERTISING Caroline Diaco Group Publisher

Left: Petit by Sofie Schnoor jacket, Laundry by Shelli Segal flocked dress, skinny belt by ILoveGorgeous, TicTacToe tights, Dr. Martens polka dot boots, striped hair bow by Wee Ones, Adelaide New York horseshoe hair clip. Photography by Trevett McCandliss. Styling by Angela Velasquez. Hair and makeup by Alfred Lester for Utopia.

Mike Hoff Webmaster CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 36 Cooper Square, 4th floor New York, NY 10003 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 advertising@9threads.com editorialrequests@ 9threads.com Circulation Office Joel Shupp 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 circulation@9threads.com CORPORATE 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis, Chairman Lee Zapis, President Rich Bongorno, CFO Debbie Grim, Controller

EARNSHAW’S INFANTS, GIRLS AND BOYS WEAR REVIEW ISSN 0161-2786 (USPS-320-090) The business and fashion magazine of the childrenswear industry is published monthly by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 36 Cooper Square, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003. The publishers of this magazine do not assume responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: U.S. $48; Rates outside U.S. available upon request. Single price copy, $5. Copyright 2011 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Postmaster: Send address changes to Earnshaw’s Infants, Girls and Boys Wear Review, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Printed in USA.

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editor’s note

GRADUATION. ASIDE FROM being the time of the year when kids’ retailers see a post-Easter spike in dresswear sales, it’s also that weird and wonderful season when teens and twentysomethings across the country don polyester caps and gowns and march en masse to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” while proud mamas and papas reach for their cameras—and Kleenex. I was one of those family members bawling my eyes out in the audience this year, as my 18-year-old cousin stepped across the stage to pick up her high school diploma. What a strange feeling to watch a loved one embark on a new adventure. I wanted to offer her a wealth of sober precautions about how to navigate her new reality, but I also wanted to protect her idealism—a virtue that often goes unappreciated by worldweary grown-ups. We frequently assume in life and business that hard-won experience and knowledge are the keys to success—and often they are. Barry Kottler of BAK Apparel, the subject of this month’s Q&A on p. 22, is a perfect example. With more than 30 years of experience in the children’s market, including a stint at Tommy Hilfiger, the industry vet is well-prepared to weather the challenges of today’s retail climate, from the rise of the off-price segment to climbing production costs in China. Yet even with Kottler’s vast store of knowledge, it took an outsider to introduce a few new ideas at BAK—his son, Mark Kottler, the company’s new vice president. A journalist by training, Mark encouraged his father to launch a new website, complete with a virtual showroom, to make meeting with overseas retailers and manufacturers a breeze. If it works, hundreds of fellow brands will likely follow suit. And it took a pair of fresh eyes to spot the possibility. Fresh eyes are especially important in the apparel industry. Too often the business of fashion is the business of dollars, as brands jump on the latest trend and ride the sales wave until it crashes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The Outsiders Never underestimate the value of a novice— especially in fashion.

But that’s not the case with recent grads. I had the honor of helping select this year’s top childrenswear graduate at Parsons, and to chat with the winning kids’ designer at FIT, too. Aside from the beautiful clothes they crafted for their final collections, it’s hard not to be inspired by their enthusiasm. They look at the kids’ market and see a realm of possibility. Natali Collado, the Critic Award Winner at FIT, gravitated toward childrenswear because it enabled her to design across categories, from on-trend outerwear to dreamy dresses. Meanwhile, Parsons’ award-winning grad Ashley Yoon Chang created a fashion-forward collection for teen boys, filled with fun pops of neon and neoprene details. (For more info on the winning grads, see p. 8 of Talking Points.) It’s easy to imagine Chang’s designs inspiring a tidal wave of trend-driven apparel for older boys—a market that’s vastly underserved due in part to the conventional wisdom that boys don’t care about style. Is that still true? Without young designers like Chang challenging the status quo, we would certainly never know. So in the spirit of the graduation season, I would like to recommend the following advice to fashion grads, as proffered by Sion Betesh, the executive vice president at Parigi Group. At a panel for Parsons students, Betesh recently suggested that aspiring children’s designers hit the stores—not to shop, but to investigate. “Tell me what I’m missing,” he said. As Betesh points out, sometimes it takes an outsider to see what insiders have been missing all along.

AUDREY GOODSON KINGO

audrey.kingo@9threads.com

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join aden + anais® and (RED)™ in the fight for an AIDS-FREE GENERATION

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Talking

Points Princely Power

Like his trendsetting mom, little George is boosting sales for a few lucky brands.

IF YOU THOUGHT packing a diaper bag for a day trip was a feat in and of itself, imagine preparing for a two-week royal tour of Australia and New Zealand with a 9-month-old prince in tow. That’s just what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did last month, and high on the young royals’ checklist was a wardrobe of modern and elegant classics for their little heir by British designer Rachel Riley. “We knew Will and Kate had some of our things, but we didn’t know when and if they were going to be worn,” the proud designer reveals. The outfit in question, a Spring ’14 smocked cotton romper with sailboat embroidery, set the bar high by being worn for the prince’s first official engagement, a press covered play date with other toddlers in New Zealand. Priced at $129 retail, the ensemble sold out immediately (currently on backorder) and will become part of the label’s Heritage Collection of year-round items. A cardigan, polo and pair of shorts Prince George wore during a second photo call to a zoo will also become part of the seasonless collection. It’s a pattern taking shape each time the blue blood is spotted wearing a storebought item. Call it the Prince George Effect: From the Riley-designed romper to the overalls by Spanish brand Neck & Neck worn on his flight back to the U.K. to the Aden + Anais muslin blanket he was famously swaddled in for his international debut, whatever Prince George touches turns into retail gold. “Having Prince George wear our blanket was quite an honor that has really solidified our international presence,” reveals Raegan Moya-Jones, co-founder and CEO of Aden + Anais. The duck print swaddle was already a bestseller, Moya-Jones reports, but it skyrocketed immediately when news outlets caught wind of the

brand. It sold out in the U.K. in one day and stateside within a week. In a celeb baby-obsessed world no other tot is generating the amount of media coverage Prince George excites, and associated brands are reaping the instant PR benefits. “Our PR agency fielded questions and interview requests from around the world for weeks,” Moya-Jones recalls, noting the U.S. website briefly crashed due to the number of visitors. “But it was great to see all the comments Mischka left by mothers, both in the U.S. and Aoki internationally,” she adds. Similarly Riley says the press coverage aroused debates in Britain about affordable luxury. Her brand’s blend of luxury with affordability, tradition with modernity echoes the young royals’ taste for normalcy—another hot topic amongst U.K. tabloid editors. “But that’s what we are—a luxury kids’ brand that is still within people’s reach,” she explains. “We strive to make pieces versatile, wearable and machine washable but with a nod to classic techniques. I think Prince George looked very much at ease crawling around on the floor in that romper.” Along with sales and press coverage, Bonnie royal seal of approval the unsolicited Young is ticking off career benchmarks. As a London-based designer, Riley says she’s instinctively interested in the monarchy in the first place, but the royal watcher will continue to keep her eye on the high profile baby. “I love dressing all my kids and all of my customers, but if there was one baby I dreamt of dressing it was the next heir to the British throne,” she admits. “It was a dream of mine, and now it’s a lovely reality.” Fortunately for Riley, her line goes up to size 14, leaving the palace window of opportunity open for many more years to come. —Angela Velasquez

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Talking

Points Scan ’n Go Looking to ditch costly credit card payments, retailers move towards mobile payment methods.

THERE WAS A time, not long ago, when cash was king. Then along came plastic, overtaking bills and coins as the payment method of choice for consumers. Now, dozens of U.S. retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl’s, have joined forces to poach on turf long claimed by credit card companies by pushing into the fiercely competitive and growing mobile payment market. Dubbed the Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, consumers will be able to download the network’s retailer-controlled digital wallet app to their smartphones, connect it to their debit or credit cards, open the app and then tap or scan their phones to pay at participating stores. While a launch date has yet to be set, the MCX already has some clout: Network members account for about $1 trillion in sales annually, and their move to mobile is spurred partly by their desire to shed the amount merchants pay in order to accept credit and debit cards. It’s just a few percent per transaction, but it adds up fast: Morgan Stanley estimates that credit card payments cost retailers in developed countries up to $150 million in 2012. Mobile payment systems, meanwhile, present a potential low-cost solution. For instance, retailers can be up and running with a QR code scanner from LevelUp that connects to their existing POS system for a mere $50. More importantly, the company charges only a 1.95 percent payment-processing fee, versus the 3 to 5 percent in interchange that businesses have to pay to accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Many retailers already have apps, but currently only offer coupons and information about promotions and products. Now stores are hoping their digital wallets will not only reduce transaction fees but also give them comprehensive data about consumers’ shopping habits so they can target their advertising initiatives. “Merchants can engage their customers with the convenience of mobile payments along with personalized offers, promotions and programs that build customer loyalty and increase share of wallet,” states Kevin Laracey, CEO and founder of Paydiant, a startup that will provide MCX members with the technology required to allow consumers to pay with their smartphones. Yet before mobile payments can be widely adopted, some significant problems must be overcome, says Jim Stapleton, SVP of sales at Isis, a mobile payment venture backed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. For example, merchants who want to accept mobile payments are unlikely to support all the possible types, such as Google Wallet, PayPal or LevelUp. And convincing some customers that tapping a phone is better than swiping a credit card is no easy task. “Old things never die, the growth just shifts, but emphasizing the ease and simplicity of mobile wallets, coupled with the convenience of including loyalty and offers makes for a natural converstion for retailers to have with their customers,” offers Stapleton. —Lyndsay McGregor

Honor Roll Parsons and FIT laud top grads on the runway.

WANT TO FIND out where fashion is headed? Look no further than the graduating class at the country’s top design programs, FIT and Parsons. Together, the two schools can count Calvin Klein, Nanette Lepore, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan among their alumni. And with a new crop of childrenswear designers emerging every year, it’s certainly not a bad place to look for fresh ideas in the kids’ arena, too. Case in point: This year’s award-winning grads, whose looks were presented at runway shows alongside other winning designs in an array of fashion categories. At FIT, senior Natali Collado took home the Critic Award in childrenswear for her sparkling special occasion dress in blush pink, featuring a silk skirt scattered with seed beads and sequins. Meanwhile Ashley Yoon Chang was selected as the top childrenswear designer at Parsons, after presenting her collection to a panel of kids’ industry insiders. Filled with pops of neon and neoprene details, Chang’s collection for teen boys impressed the panel with its originality and attention to detail. “It was inspired by Thai fisherman, and it started from my favorite childhood memory of always going fishing with my family,” says Chang. “I started researching it, and I fell in love with the indigenous tribes in the northern rural area, where I found the weaving and the traditional clothing that inspired me.” Aside from a prerequisite love of kids, both grads note they were drawn to childrenswear because it offered them the opportunity to design across categories. “What drew me most to kids’ wear was that I could design a little bit of everything,” Collado says. “I’ve done everything from puffer coats to swimsuits.” —Audrey Goodson Kingo

Natali Collado

Ashley Yoon Chang

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HOT PROPERTIES

Reindeer Games Rashti & Rashti pairs with a holiday icon.

Animal Kingdom

Celebrity pets continue to cash in on Internet stardom.

INTERNET CELEBRITY GRUMPY Cat may have enticed more than 600 people to a meet-and-greet at Gund’s booth during February’s edition of Toy Fair—but it didn’t improve her famous mood. Neither has the litter of licensing deals that includes her scowling face on everything from cat food to frappuccinos. “Even though she looks grumpy, she makes you a little less grumpy when you see her,” explains Sally Drewes, director of marketing for Gund, which is expanding its line of Grumpy Catlicensed products this year to include lanyards (SRP $2.49) that pair with mixand-match mini plush toys (SRP $7.49). She points out that one of Gund’s first customers for Grumpy was Justice, adding, “Kids today are very aware of Internet sensations. They know them better than a lot of adults do.” The frowning feline (real name Tardar Sauce) isn’t the only Internet-famous pet looking to cuddle up to her fans at home in 2014: Boo, the wildly popular Pomeranian with more than 11 million Facebook fans, is also adding to his line

of plush toys with Gund. One standout is a limited edition Itty Bitty Boo bedecked with reindeer ears (SRP $11.99) that will hit stores in time for the holiday season. Boo’s best pal Buddy is now available in plush form, too, retailing for $24.99. Meanwhile, Cuddle Barn will introduce an interactive version of its Lil Bub stuffed toy (SRP $24) in Fall ‘14 that will play actual sounds from the perma-kitten when pet, and Abrams will offer a 2015 wall calendar (SRP $13.99). “Consumer products allow Lil Bub to venture past people’s computer and mobile screens and into physical items for people to cherish,” says Liz Brooks, executive vice president at HAP Consulting, noting that a portion of sales will go towards charities that help animals in need. Details are being finalized on a line of co-branded Lil Bub/ASPCA products, too. For information on retail opportunities, contact sales@gund. com, David Ting at david@cuddle-barn. com and Marty McGrath at mmcgrath@ abramsbooks.com. —Lyndsay McGregor

THE BRIGHTEST NOSE in show business turns 50 this year, and part of the celebration calls for teaming up with Rashti & Rashti. The company and Character Arts, the licensor for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, are collaborating to create a clothing and accessories collection featuring Rudolph and friends for the holidays. Danielle Signorelli, media and communications director for Rashti & Rashti, says the alignment was a no-brainer. “Rudolph is a true family brand that crosses generations,” she notes. The line includes bodysuits, sleepwear, bibs, hats, booties, blankets, plush characters and even an inflatable chair for older children. “Rudolph is one of the most iconic, beloved characters, and families have a deep connection to the Rudolph tradition,” says Signorelli. The products will be decorated with characters and quotes from the animated television special and embellished with shiny fabric on Rudolph’s nose, gold stitching, glitter printing and novelty Rudolph appliqués. Layette items range in size from newborn to 12 months, and sleepwear will be sized up for infants and toddlers. Products begin shipping in August. For more information, e-mail contactus@ rashtiandrashti.com. —Samantha Sciarrotta

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Sock Monkey

Appaman and BabyLegs bow a fashion-forward legwear collection. SHORTLY AFTER TOUTING a partnership with Jonathan Adler, licensing giant United Legwear announced a deal with another brand known for style: Appaman. The popular kids’ company is teaming up with United Legwear’s BabyLegs brand to create a legwear line for Fall ’14. The collection coordinates with Appaman’s Fall/ Winter ’14 offering and includes crew socks for boys and crew socks, knee socks and legwarmers for girls. “We are over-the-moon excited to partner with BabyLegs,” says Appaman Owner Lynn Husum. “Appaman and BabyLegs both represent a commitment to quality, comfort and style. It has been a fun collaboration with the perfect ingredients of good product and good

Pajama Party

It’s Adventure Time for Intimo sleepwear. WHAT DO KIDS love more than great TV shows? Great TV show merchandise! Adventure Time, the popular Cartoon Network series, has proven to be a softlines success since its retail debut in 2010, and this fall Cartoon Network Enterprises and sleepwear manufacturer Intimo will launch a line of pajamas based on the show’s quirky characters. “What’s great about Adventure Time is not only do kids want to watch the show itself, but it’s become part of their everyday existence,” says Peter Yoder, vice president of consumer products at Cartoon Network Enterprises, noting that the deal enables the company to expand its reach in the girls’ market and in mid-tier and specialty stores. The sleepwear (SRP $28-$38) features Finn and his shape-shifting dog, Jake, Lumpy Space Princess and Vampire Girl. The boys’ sets will retail at mid-tier and specialty stores in sizes 4 to 20, while the girls’ sets in sizes 4 to 16 will be available across all channels. To learn more, e-mail peter.yoder@turner.com. —L.M.

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people.” President and CEO of United Legwear Co. Isaac E. Ash agrees, adding that his own children are Appaman fans. “The urban, edgy vibe of Appaman has translated into socks and legwarmers that are on-trend and very fashionforward,” he notes. “Our customers love variety, and partnering with a relevant, modern brand like Appaman gives them freshness.” The products will feature Appaman’s signature monkey logo on stripe, argyle, checkerboard, star and zig-zag patterns. Blues, grays and pinks feature prominently. Boys’ socks will retail for $10, while girls’ socks and leg warmers will sell for $12. To learn more, contact Rita Polidori O’Brien at rita@unitedlegwear.com. —S.S.

Paddington on Top

Licensees sign on to celebrate the little bear’s big screen debut.

FROM CHILDREN TO kid-at-heart adults, everyone loves Paddington, the marmalade-eating bear from Darkest Peru. And on Dec. 12, the behatted character will make his big screen debut in Paddington, the first ever live-action movie inspired by Michael Bond’s bestselling books. To celebrate, bedding, bibs and more are getting a makeover from a handful of carefully selected licensees. Yottoy will offer a 16-inch plush Paddington, dressed in his famous floppy bush hat and blue duffle coat, armed with a paperboard suitcase bearing his initials. An assortment of puzzles and jigsaws wholesaling from $3.90 to $9.50

will be released by New York Puzzle Company, featuring imagery from classic storybook scenes as well as new artwork that ties into the upcoming movie. Cutie Pie Baby will put a modern spin on the bear’s classic style with clothing, outerwear, accessories and bath goods for boys and girls in sizes newborn to 7 years. Think warm coats, colorful pants and rain gear wholesaling from $10 to $30. Meanwhile, Minnesota-based décor manufacturer Trend Lab will launch a capsule collection of baby bedding, room décor and gifts. All items will hit stores in Q3, and licensees will unveil expanded Paddington product ranges to coincide with the launch of the DVD in 2015. For further information, retailers are advised to contact yottoy@yottoy.com, adam@ newyorkpuzzlecompany.com, heathert@ cutiepiebaby.com and sales@trend-lab. com. —L.M.

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HOT PROPERTIES

Pretty in Pink

Kleinfeld adds party dresses for girls to its résumé. AFTER MORE THAN 60 years in business and a hit TV show, betrothed beauties from all over the country now flock to Kleinfeld Bridal to Say Yes to the Dress. But even with the world’s largest selection of gowns, the shop was missing out on clothing a crucial market segment: pint-sized bridal party members. So Kleinfeld partnered with children’s industry mainstay, Kahn Lucas, to create Kleinfeld Pink, a line of special occasion dresses available for Fall ’14. It is the first retail venture for Kleinfeld-branded dresses, which will be available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, The Bay, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, as well as specialty stores. Kleinfeld co-owner Ronnie Rothstein said

brides often request party dresses or flower girl gowns. “We imagine this will be a very successful partnership because we sought out one of the best manufacturers in children’s wear: Kahn Lucas,” he says. “They understand how to construct the perfect dress for any occasion.” Rosettes, bows and brooch-like accents adorn the dresses, available in a wedding-perfect palette of pinks, blacks and metallics— as well as deep red and emerald for holiday festivities. Dresses are available for girls 18 months to 12 years, and retail prices range from $125 to $350. For more information, contact Jennette Kruszka at jkruszka@ kleinfeldbridal.com. —S.S.

Super Kids

Western Chief expands its lineup with Marvel-themed merchandise. WESTERN CHIEF KIDS has become a powerhouse in licensed raingear, so it’s no surprise the brand teamed up with a super franchise of another sort: Marvel. After successful partnerships with DC Comics, Sanrio and HiT Entertainment, Washington Shoe Company Marketing Coordinator Lindsay Schutter says working with the minds that created characters like Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine and more was a logical next step. “Marvel has a unique way of storytelling that in

essence matches the whimsy that Western Chief Kids gives to children so that they may be their own superheroes,” she notes. The collection, available for Fall ’14, features a three-piece Spider-Man set, including an umbrella decorated with Spidey’s characteristic eyes and red webbing, matching rubber rain boots and a rain jacket that mimics the hero’s suit, highlighted by a see-through mask attached to the hood. The brand also developed

Captain America rain boots and is exploring other Marvel characters. Retailers like Nordstrom, Stride Rite, Von Maur, Amazon, Zappos and Chasing Fireflies will carry the line. “Our major retailers have been asking for us to carry the Marvel license for years, and the retail response is already strong,” Schutter observes. Retail prices range from $17.95 to $49.95. E-mail Lindsay Schutter at lschutter@ washingtonshoe.com for further information. —S.S.

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Croc Stars The comfort shoe brand adds more light sabers and teenage turtles.

CROCS HAS SEEN plenty of success

Bright Spot Cejon and Betsey Johnson team up again, this time for a younger crowd. AFTER A SUCCESSFUL partnership in the womens’ accessories arena, Betsey Johnson and licensing powerhouse Cejon are reuniting to bring the beloved designer’s bright, bold designs to a younger generation, creating a collection of bright knit and faux fur coordinates and jackets just in time for Fall ’14. “It made sense to bring Betsey’s whimsical and bright style to younger tween markets,” says Cejon Senior Vice President Gidget Towey. “Her style is fun, and moms will recognize the name as a design icon.” The hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and jackets will incorporate several of Johnson’s signature prints like her leopard intarsia, “XOX” and lips, as well as other girl-friendly embellishments like lace, veils and metallic-edged ruffles. Neon magenta and pale shades are the predominant colors, which Hollie Watman, design director for kids at Cejon, says has been successful with some of its other brands. “We noticed equal success in our bright and pale palettes,” she notes. The line wholesales for $14 and up and will be sold at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s and specialty stores. For more information, e-mail customerservice@cejon.com. —S.S.

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with its licensed lines, so it comes as no surprise that the company is expanding one collection and addding another. Fans of the shoe are familiar with its longtime collection of Star Wars-themed Jibbitz charms, and now they can expect to see their favorite droids, lightsabers, villains and more on the brand’s bestselling footwear styles for Spring ’14. And as part of its Nickelodeon lineup, Crocs is also debuting a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shoe collection. Both are perfect for partnerships, says Crocs Licensing Manager Greg Thomas. “Both Star Wars and TMNT are ‘evergreen’ properties in the sense that they have stood the test of time and promise

to be popular for years to come.” The Star Wars line includes two Crocband styles, highlighted by R2D2 and Stormtrooper glow-in-the-dark elements, and three CrocsLights styles, each inspired by Darth Vader, Yoda and Jedi. A glow-in-the-dark Darth Vader-themed lined Crocband shoe is also available. Meanwhile, kids’ favorite pizza-eating, radioactive reptiles appear in various poses on Crocband shoe and CrocsLights styles. For example, a glow-in-the-dark Creative Croc shows the turtles in action at the top of the shoe. All styles are currently available in sizes C8 for children to J3 for juniors and wholesale for $39.99. For more information, e-mail Caitlyn Pepper at cpepper@crocs.com. —S.S.

Grand Slam Sanrio scores with MLB. MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL merchandise usually calls to mind jerseys, T-shirts and ball caps, but Sanrio, Inc. wants to turn that idea on its head with a new line of Hello Kitty-themed team clothes, plush dolls and accessories, available for immediate delivery. Each of the league’s 30 teams is represented, so fans of every squad can show their spirit, says Dave Marchi, Sanrio’s senior director of brand management and marketing. “Based on the popularity of the existing team programs and the excitement we have seen from fans of all teams, we anticipate a successful partnership,” he offers. Available at select mass retailers, sporting good and specialty stores and MLB.com, as well as Sanrio boutiques and in-stadium stores, the line includes both apparel and accessories. Totes, pouch bags and coin purses are shaped like everyone’s favorite feline, complete with any team’s cap. Meanwhile, T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts feature her face paired with team names and logos. Pins, phone cases, key chains and team caps topped with Kitty’s signature bow and ears are also available. The line retails from $2 to $100, and clothing items range from infant to adult sizes. Contact Dyann Hawkins at dyann@orsipr.com for further information. —S.S.

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RESH FINDS Free Bird

SoCal-based women’s brand 4Love&$ sizes down its free-spirited sensibility to launch tween line 4Love for Fall ’14. Tanks and tees emblazoned with inspirational messages pair perfectly with the brand’s boho-chic skirts and tribal print pants, while cozy cardigans and oversized sweaters add a stylish layer to ditsy floral dresses. Designed and made in the U.S.A. for girls sizes 7 to 16, wholesale prices range from $12 to $18. Visit www.4loveandmoney.us.

Vibrant designs with a practical touch pep up classic silhouettes.

Fiesta Fashion

Vibrant hues and quirky graphics abound as 20-year-old Spanish brand TucTuc docks on U.S. shores for the first time this year. A sunny palette of azure blue, orange and lime green, punctuated by fun prints like jellyfish, lends itself to a lineup of tops, tees, pants, dresses and swimwear for a stylish twist on classic silhouettes. Inspired by the fantasy of childhood and designed for play, sizes for boys and girls range from newborn to 12 years and wholesale prices range from $9 to $60. Go to www.tuctuc.com.

Baby Basics

When Designer Rachel Pally was faced with finding clothing to help her firstborn son stand out, she looked to her 14-year-old namesake line for inspiration, and in Spring ‘14 Rachel Pally Baby was born. Pants, dresses, jumpsuits, blankets and tops pop with fun prints like digitally enhanced tie-dye and arrowheads—some of which even match those in the women’s line—and everything is made from supersoft jersey modal. Wholesaling from $15 to $36, most pieces are unisex and sizes range from 0 to 24 months. Check out www.rachelpally.com.

Controlled Environment

Meet Mbaby by Munchkin, a temperature-regulating layette line for boys and girls in sizes 1 to 12 months. One-piece bodysuits and footed pajamas feature patent-pending double-layer fronts and single-ply backs to keep infants warm, comfortable and safe in their cribs. Elsewhere in the line, mix-and-match playwear offers plenty of outfit options, while diaper changes are a cinch with snap guides and roll-up footies that allow garments to grow with baby. Wholesale prices range from $13 to $50. Check out www.munchkin.com/mbaby.

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Sweet Dreams

After stumbling upon medical research showing that swaddling babies with their arms up is a safer and more natural way to snooze, an Australian mom crafted a swaddle suit that gives babies access to their hands—to help them self-soothe and sleep longer. Already a smashing success down under, the Love to Swaddle Up by Love to Dream is ergonomically designed and made from one layer of cotton elastane so it’s breathable and lightweight, and retails for $30 to $35. It comes in four colors and is offered in three sizes designed to fit babies ranging from 6 lbs. to 24 lbs. Visit www.lovetodream.com.au.

Man Tailored

British newcomer Unruly Blue turns the theory that blue is for boys on its head by using every color but for its U.S. debut this fall. Instead, the 3-yearold line meets the demand for tailored duds by sourcing a colorful array of printed fabrics and natural textiles from the likes of Liberty of London and Harris Tweed. Styles span three-piece suits to cotton formal button-downs and 100 percent cashmere sweaters. Sizes range from 4 to 14 years and wholesale prices range from $30.40 to $139.20. Go to www. unrulyblue.co.uk.

Happy Feet

Kids who can’t get enough of Pediped’s Flex line of rubbersoled sneakers, boots and shoes can now wear their favorite styles for a little longer: The Henderson, NV-based brand has expanded its sizing up to EU 36 for Fall ’14. The company, which turns 10 this year, has also added new colors and styles to its athletic collection, like black and gray sneakers for girls and red and green ones for boys, as well as shearling lined booties for babies. Wholesale prices range from $17 to $38. Check out www.pediped.com.

Back to Nature

Italian brand Ocra brings its line of zero-impact shoes to the U.S. just in time for the back-to-school shopping season. Boys and girls will love the blend of leather, suede and pony hair, as well as cutouts that look like wings, stars and spots—while parents will appreciate the quality. Handmade by Italian craftsmen using chrome- and pollutant-free tanned leathers, the shoes’ soles are vegetal-tanned, and the only plastic the company uses is recycled and 100 percent biodegradable. Sizes range from EU 18 to 32 and wholesale prices for fall range from $60 to $85. Go to www.ocra-lab.it. 2 0 1 4 J U N E • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 1 5

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[ON THE BLOCK]

Family Affair

F

Second-generation store owner Denise Kort reveals how Connie’s Children’s Shop, a Michigan mainstay for 60 years, has learned to survive and thrive despite the shifting sands of time. BY LYNDSAY MCGREGOR

OR MOST GIRLS, growing up with easy access to the trendiest threads is a dream. For Denise Kort, it was a reality. “I was definitely the best dressed kid in school,” she laughs. That’s because her parents, Sidney and Maxine Kort, owned Connie’s Children’s Shop, a St. Clair Shores, MI store that’s been serving the greater Detroit area with reasonable prices on top-quality kids’ clothes since 1954. And this year, as Connie’s celebrates its 60th anniversary, Kort herself is sitting firmly at the helm—and she couldn’t be happier. “I get people who thank me up and down everyday. They really appreciate the service we offer here,” she shares. She didn’t, however, set out to be a boutique owner herself. Despite a youth spent working

weekends and summers at Connie’s, she had her sights set a little closer to home. “I just wanted to be married with kids!” she remembers, laughing. But fate has a funny way of stepping in when you least expect it, and in 1989, when her graduation from Michigan State University coincided with the firing of a troublesome manager, her parents offered her the job. She hasn’t looked back since. When her parents retired and moved to Florida, they handed down the reins to her and her sister, Connie Silverman, the store’s namesake and one-time bookkeeper. After the couple passed away, the family business was left to Kort. “It was always more my passion than Connie’s,” she states. But, she notes, her grandparents Yetta and

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Joe Weinberg should get the credit for spotting a consumer demand for childrenswear in the area in the first place. Throughout the 1940s, the couple ran a dime store about a mile down the road in Grosse Pointe Woods where they had been successfully selling a small selection of kids’ clothes for years. They were the ones who encouraged Kort’s parents to capitalize on that demand and open a full-blown childrenswear store, loaning the then 20-yearold couple $7,000 to help get the business off the ground. They were right: The shop was an instant hit, raking in $60,000 in its first year alone. Not bad for a 1,200-square-foot space stocking mostly uniforms for local parochial and private schools. In fact, the store was so successful that it expanded in 1967, adding a large back room and dressing room, and in 1994 it moved a few doors down to its current 10,000-square-foot location and introduced shoes to its selection. “The store is in more of a conservative, preppy area so my parents definitely kept the merchandise tailored to that,” Kort recalls, adding that when she started buying for the store she made a concentrated effort to add trendier items to attract a more fashion-conscious consumer. “But I still have to cater to the grandma who likes smocking,” she notes. Today, Connie’s clientele comes from all over, drawing customers from the affluent Grosse Pointe community and urban areas of Detroit alike. “I have to cater to a lot of different economic classes,” Kort points out, adding that she carries everything from back-to-school ensembles and special occasion wear to shoes, accessories and toys, with sizes ranging from newborn up to 16 for girls and up to 20 for boys. She likens the shopping experience to browsing in a department store, with everything clearly merchandised by category, rather than in themed vignettes that customers could find confusing. The store specializes in clothing for the hard-to-fit boy, with a selection that runs the gamut from Puma and Under Armour to Izod and Good Lad, and alterations are available for a small fee. Girls can choose from Isobella & Chloe, Bonnie Jean, Elisa B and Hartstrings, while Little Me and Offspring are bestsellers for babies and infants. On the shoes side, Kort carries select styles from the likes of Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite, Kenneth Cole, Merrell, Keen and Bogs. But while today’s offering looks a little different, the store hasn’t strayed too far from its

roots. “I still run this store like a mom-and-pop shop, even though we’re definitely not. But it still has a neighborhood feel to it,” Kort says, putting it down to the fact that she herself works the floor five days a week. “A lot of times you go into stores, especially independently owned stores, and the owner is nowhere to be found. Managers are running it, and they don’t have the same passion and dedication as what the owner would have.” But passion—and lineage—can only do so much. When the economy went south in ’08, so did the store’s business. “My sales are down from 2004, that’s for sure, but I’ve adjusted,” she shares, adding that cutting back on employees and merchandise was the only way to stay open. She introduced more affordably priced lines, too. And while she does still stock some pricey labels, she has to cherry-pick everything. “Before I could just go [to a trade show] and buy what I wanted, and if it didn’t sell I’d put it at 50 percent off and make my money back, but you can’t do that anymore.” Kort chalks it up in part to the ever-present threat of flash site sales and online behemoths like Amazon and Zappos. But rather than begrudge the online revolution, Kort has embraced the opportunities that realm can offer, selling shoes on Amazon Marketplace and turning to eBay to shift sales merchandise. It’s worked: “It’s definitely getting better. The economy is better, and I’m seeing a lot more people showing their faces,” she says, adding, “We’re busy when we’re supposed to be busy, like Easter,

First Communion and back-to-school time.” Facebook and e-mail campaigns have helped, too: She increasingly uses online avenues to engage with her customers, share promotions and introduce new products. That’s how she told customers about the store’s 60th anniversary promotion: For $30 cash, customers received a $60 voucher to spend on a future sale. “How else are you going to reach people day to day and keep the store name in front of their faces? Depending on the time of year, I can send out an e-mail [to my 2,000 subscribers] once a week or four times a week,” she says. “I get people who come in and say they’re so glad they got my e-mail that morning because it reminded them that their son needed a new belt.” The shop also boasts something that’s in short supply at chain stores and big box shops: an old-fashioned focus on friendly, personalized service that keeps customers returning year after year. “I’ve got a great staff that’s been here for a very long time, and my repeat customers know everybody’s faces,” Kort says. She offers a loyalty program, too: Three percent back on every purchase made, which not only offers an incentive to buy additional products, but reinforces and cements customer relations. “If people are at the mall and they see some shoes for their child they might say, ‘Why would I buy that here when I know I can buy it at Connie’s and get points?’” she says, noting that about 500 customers have signed up for the program to date. Kort and her employees take as much >38 2 0 1 4 J U N E • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 1 7

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OnTrend Kapital K one-piece

Scholastic Hello, Moon!

Imagine GreenWear long-sleeve shirt

Jibbitz by Crocs shoe charms

JoJo Maman Bébé storage bag

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM JONES. RUNWAY PHOTOGRAPHY FROM PITTI IMMAGINE BIMBO.

Zutano T-shirt

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Yikes Twins hooded towel

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM JONES. RUNWAY PHOTOGRAPHY FROM PITTI IMMAGINE BIMBO.

Doodle Pants leggings

Miss Grant

Space Cadet

If you flash 1,000 light years ahead, chances are you

will find a fashion industry that is still captivated by outer space—and with good reason. Teeming with shooting stars, gleaming rockets, twinkling moons and mammoth planets, this real-life fantasy world elicits out-of-this-world designs season after season. From Saint Laurent’s simple star prints to the more readily available galactic print leggings that have become a mainstay on the fast fashion circuit, space is an abyss of inspiration. Another example? Both Preen and the Rodarte sisters coincidently sent models down their Fall ’14 runways in Star Wars-themed threads. All in all, it’s a superstar look sure to take kids’ fashion to infinity and beyond. —Angela Velasquez

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Lucky Fish raglan tee

5/22/14 11:03 AM


OnTrend Fashion from Spain

iScream tee and lounge shorts

Jellyfish bluetooth speaker

Tech Boom

When Harper’s Bazaar debuted a set of Fashion Week emojis earlier this year, complete with green tea, ear cuff, stiletto and Bill Cunningham icons, the magazine sent fashionistas into a downloading frenzy. And this fall children’s designers are taking it up a notch with emoticon and text lingo-inspired fashion. A Pew Research study reveals that 51 percent of 12-year-olds own a cellphone, which means there is a whole lot of LOL, OMG and ROTFL going on between “graming” and games of Candy Crush. And with the market’s profusion of tween-friendly wristlets, wireless speakers and chic yet protective phone cases (#stylemeetsfunction), staying plugged in to the next must-have trend has never been easier.—A.V.

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Malibu Sugar hat

Betsey Johnson texting gloves Pop Out Clothing vest

Zara Terez leggings

Rolf Bleu iPhone case

Charm It! by High IntenCity bracelet

Sakroots wristlet

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Q& A

With 30 years of experience in children’s fashion, including a stint at Tommy Hilfiger, industry veteran Barry Kottler of BAK Apparel has mastered the art of survival in an ever-shifting retail landscape, establishing a reputation for quality and building a legacy that will last as the next generation steps up to the plate. BY AUDREY GOODSON KINGO

Mass Appeal

Barry Kottler and his son, Mark, of BAK Apparel

that manufactured in the Dominican Republic. Aside from the production shifts that impacted the children’s industry in those days—including the rise of China as a low cost manufacturing mainstay—it was also a time when many American heritage brands began branching into the kids category. As the director of sales, Kottler helped expand Tommy Hilfiger’s kids division, and as the divisional president for the now-defunct company Happy Kids, he oversaw the launch of Izod for kids. (Izod is now manufactured by Cutie Pie Baby.) All in all, it was a time when costs were low, sales were solid, and as Kottler jokingly notes, Al Gore hadn’t yet invented the Internet. Oh, how times have changed. The first major difference? “China is no longer the world’s low-cost manufacturing country,” Kottler points out. “It doesn’t want to be. Every country grows up. Now people are going to Bangladesh and India. But every worker in the world sees what’s going on in China. They know there’s upward mobility, and they know they want more money. So these countries that are taking over for China right now will get to the point in the next five or 10 years where they’ll be too expensive.” It’s a revolving production scene that may actually land back in the U.S. at some point, he posits. In addition to to the challenge of increasing costs, the price of kids’ apparel has largely flatlined, he adds, particularly since the average consumer is still reeling from the recession. While the economy may be slowly growing—particularly the stock market—it’s a recovery that’s

PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BY TREVETT MCCANDLISS

I

T’S NO SECRET that retail is undergoing a revolution. From the rapid rise of fast fashion to a steady surge in online purchases, the definition of shopping itself continues to shift. Add the advent of social media to the mix, where consumers can share their favorite brands with the click of a button, and it’s easy to understand why many retailers and brand executives are bewildered by such a complex, constantly-evolving landscape. What’s easy to forget when faced with the myriad challenges of today’s retail scene is that the fashion industry has never been one to maintain the status quo—and savvy manufacturers have always needed to adapt to survive. There’s no better example than Barry Kottler, president of BAK Apparel. Charting the course of Kottler’s career is akin to reading the CliffsNotes on the garment industry’s many evolutions in the last few decades. It’s also a primer on the importance of shifting to meet the market’s demands, while staying true to your core competency. Kottler landed his first gig in the industry through a family friend in 1978, when he began working as a sales associate for a kids’ apparel company called Jackhammers. The brand manufactured boys’ bottoms in Puerto Rico and sold to Kmart and J.C. Penney—during a time that could arguably be called the zenith for both merchants. After learning the ropes, Kottler moved to Trifind, a boys’ pant brand manufactured in Scranton, PA, along with a wave of other apparel companies that moved their production to the area after the rise of unions made manufacturing in New York City cost prohibitive for many brands. But Scranton’s heydey as a manufacturing mecca quickly faded in the ’90s, after President Clinton signed NAFTA, and the cost of manufacturing in the Caribbean and other South American countries became ideal. As a result, Kottler worked at a couple different companies at that time

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and finding resources.” gone mostly unnoticed by the bulk of UP CLOSE WITH BARRY AND That sense of energy and enthusithe American middle class. “They’re MARK KOTTLER asm is exactly why Barry is excited to paying more for health insurance, show Mark the ropes. Yet while the the tennis courts every weekgasoline, rent and food, and they’re What’s your favorite movie? elder Kottler certainly has a trove of end. When I’m not on the tennot taking home any more money,” Barry: Pretty Woman. That, industry knowledge to impart to his nis courts, I love exploring the Kottler observes. and White Men Can’t Jump. new VP, he admits that he’s just as eager city. I’m curious by nature. With all that gloomy news, it wouldn’t Real deep movies. [Laughs.] I to learn as he is to teach. “He brings like to go to a movie and walk have been surprising for the industry a different mindset to the company,” What superpower would you out smiling. vet to rest on his laurels and enjoy a Barry says of Mark. “As we all get older love to have? Mark: I love any 1970s movie relaxing retirement. Instead, the selfwe become creatures of habit, and he Barry: I’d like to know what shot in New York City. My described workaholic launched BAK challenges me.” tomorrow is going to bring. favorite is The Taking of Apparel four years ago. Specializing in Mark: Teleporting, because Pelham 123 with Walter boys’ and girls’ special occasion wear, What’s the biggest change you’ve I’m really afraid of flying. the brand is sold under various labels Matthau and Robert Shaw. seen in the industry through the (Princess Faith and KatieM. for girls, That movie really tells the years? What three things could you Jeffrey Banks, BAK and Andrew Fezza story of New York. If the price of children’s apparel has never live without? for boys) at an array of top retailers, moved at all in the last 30 years, it’s Barry: Gatorade, pizza and including Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, What’s your favorite way to actually gone down. Costs have gone work. I couldn’t live without Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, Kohl’s, spend a free afternoon? up, but retail prices have not. There’s Von Maur, Cookie’s and K&G Fashion Barry: In the summer, golf and work. tremendous pressure because the Mark: My family, camera and Superstore, as well as The Bay and working out. In the winter, I consumer is not willing to pay a higher passport… but oatmeal raisin Winners in Canada. Three months love Saturday afternoon naps. price, so the retailer is squeezing the cookies are a close fourth. ago, the company acquired Samara, Mark: In the summer, I’m on manufacturers harder to get costs down a girls’ casual dress line that Kottler and the factory is in turn squeezing believes will help make BAK more of their suppliers. There’s a downward pressure on everything. a year-round business. While it can be easy to be blue about the industry’s recent challenges, And manufacturing costs in China continue to increase. a few things keep Kottler optimistic for the future. First are practical Yes, but I’m a creature of habit, so I’m staying in China. It’s not the observations: Unlike adult fashion, “The one thing we have in kids’ is cheapest place in the world to manufacture anymore, but I feel very planned obsolescence. The kid is going to outgrow the garment at some confident that the people I work with are going to deliver my product point,” he notes. In other words, moms need to return to the store every on time and the quality is going to be there. And my customers have year to outfit their growing brood. The second bright spot is his faith become accustomed to that quality. If I go into another country, I can in the BAK brands, as well as the Samara brand, all of which offer a buy it cheaper, but will I deliver it on time? What will the quality be great deal of quality and detail—think sequin appliques and rhinestone like? I could win the battle and lose the war. brooches—at a reasonable price point. (The special occasion wear wholesales for $6 to $20, while the girls’ casual dresses wholesale for How do you respond to these challenges? $5 to $8.) The third and most important ray of hope, however, comes One thing we refuse to do is alter the quality of our product. We will in the form of his new vice president—his son, Mark Kottler. not cut corners. Instead, we’re working with lower margins, so we have It’s Mark who convinced his father to look into creating an interactive to do more volume. That’s why I feel there will be fewer retailers and website for the brand, a prospect they both believe has a lot of potential manufacturers five years from now. Fortunately, we’re considered a niche to streamline business operations. “The websites that we see out there player. And if you continue to do what you do best and don’t try to be all are quite generic at best. What we’d like to create is a virtual showroom things to all people, then you have a pretty good chance of succeeding. where we can fine-tune presentations for any retailer,” Kottler describes. For Mark, it simply makes sense: “You can have a virtual look into the Do you think the market is oversaturated? showroom with someone a half a world away,” he points out. “Another I think it’s been oversaturated for quite a long time. There’s too much reason why the virtual showroom would be really good is that a lot of retail. I spoke to my factory yesterday, and there’s a lot of retail that’s our special occasion wear is completely cut to order, so we have a lot performing really horribly right now, at all levels. The consumer simply of customization options with patterns and colors. There are a lot of isn’t spending. They’re buying only what’s necessary. And that’s because different things we can show [in a virtual showroom] that we can’t just people who were previously making $35 to $50 an hour at their jobs are dump in a massive e-mail file. Hopefully it will cut down on back and now taking jobs for $10 an hour. Our middle class has gotten destroyed. forth e-mails to have it all in one central spot.” That’s really made those big box discounters more important. For Mark, a former journalist, the differences between the media and garment industries haven’t been as pronounced as he expected. So the rocky economy has led in part to the rise of the off-price “Journalism has become such an instant, multi-platform industry, retail segment? and clothing changes just as quickly as the news does,” he points out. Yes. And it’s hurting Macy’s, Dillard’s, Belk and Bloomingdale’s—the true “They’re both unpredictable. We don’t know what the next trend will be, department stores. Those buyers are really getting pressured because just like I don’t know who the next politician will be to be arrested. So the off-price stores are getting the same labels. But the off-price guys you can either sit around and await, or you can be proactive in scouring 2 0 1 4 J U N E • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 2 3

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are simply selling cheaper, and there’s no loyalty amongst the consumer. What’s happening in a lot of cases is the consumer is shopping the department store for the trends and then they’re going to T.J. Maxx and buying clothes at a fraction of the cost. And do they care if the fabric is a little lighter? All they know is one thing: It’s got the Ralph Lauren polo player or the Nautica sailboat. Brand recognition is important. But at the same time, people want to look fashionable. Price is important, but people also want more for less. With today’s younger parents and grandparents, there’s a real push for fashion, whether it’s color, fabric or design. I also think it’s a byproduct of the fact that there’s no sales help in the stores—the product really has to sell itself. And here comes H&M and Zara, who make disposable clothes. I always say that they give you the sizzle, but they don’t give you the steak. They’re going to give you spot-on trends, but don’t look for them to give you quality. Do you think the average consumer can spot quality? They can, but they kind of close their eyes to it—especially in kids. We live vicariously through our kids. When a mother takes her child to a party, that logo is status. She buys it is so her friends can see it and say, ‘Things must be okay at the Jones family, because little Johnny is wearing Polo.’ Nobody knows or cares where it was bought. Nobody is going over and saying, ‘Oh, that’s thinner than the polo that’s being sold for double the price at the department stores.’ Aside from brand name, what makes a garment stand out at retail? People want more details. Without the rhinestone and brooch details on

a Princess Faith dress, it would be a plain dress. But with those details, the consumer loves it. Those little added touches make the difference. Same goes for our Samara line, where we’re doing lots of appliqués. Of course, everything you add to the garment adds cost. It’s tricky because a retailer comes in to our showroom and they have a perception that those dresses should be $9.99, and you say, ‘Wow, maybe we’re putting too much into our garment.’ But you have to create a niche for yourself. You have to have a reason to exist. So we give more [detail on the garments], and we work a little closer on the margins. The problem is, once you create a price, it’s next to impossible to increase it. And in the retail world today, as you get more and more space with the department stores, your requirements on margin assistance—markdown money—become bigger. That’s also part of the reason why the big boxes have gotten bigger. The big box stores don’t ask for margin assistance? When you deal with T.J. Maxx or Ross, for example, they hit you hard up front [on pricing], and you’re basically done. There’s no backside assistance needed, unless there’s a complete disaster and the product just doesn’t sell. Then, when they come back for margin assistance, you say, ‘You really bought it at a close-out price upfront. There’s no room.’ So people have gravitated toward [off-price retailers], because it’s easier. I was talking to a department store buyer yesterday who was in the market looking for first-quarter margin assistance, and the store is getting about 40 percent of its request. And it’s not really a request; it’s a demand. If you don’t support them, you’re going to lose your position [in the store]. So, the question becomes, do you work at a higher margin up front with department stores, never quite knowing what your margin

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is actually going to be until the end? Or, you go to the big guys with the best possible price up front? That’s the million dollar question. How does a brand survive in that environment? I think at the end of the day it’s all about product. You have to give the consumer a good product at a fair value when they’re ready to buy. Then you have a good chance of doing business. If you’re not giving them quality product, and you’re not priced right and they’re not in the market to buy, then your product is not going to sell. Case in point: January and February of this year. There was no business. People just weren’t in the stores. They had no appetite for spring. Do you think it would help if the retail calendar shifted? When I went to school, you bought your entire wardrobe in August, and you were done. It wasn’t about what the cool kids were wearing; we didn’t go to school in shorts in September. Today, kids are going to school wearing the shorts they wore all summer. Even for schools with uniforms, moms used to go out and buy five pair of pants and five knit shirts—one for every day of the week. Now, they buy two or three, and when those fall apart, they’ll replace it. In the end they may buy more, but up front, they’re not doing it. But the retailer has to be ready Aug. 1, because what if that strategy changes? You have to be prepared. Another problem is that Macy’s, for example, has 800 stores nationwide. After they take inventory in January, they have to either be rid of the fall/winter merchandise to make room for spring, or they’re going to send it back. They’re not putting it in the back room anymore. So, there has to be a cut off. Is it later? Perhaps. There’s no easy answer.

www.snapperrock.com

T: 410 280 2364

What advice would you offer retailers looking to stay competitive? I often see retailers take product from the smaller stores that aren’t performing and put it into their bigger doors. Unfortunately, all they are doing is buying more of the same for those big doors, rather than changing their assortment. In my conversations with the Macy’s and Dillard’s of the world, I tell them to bring in an additional, different assortment for those top doors. The customer is coming in constantly, and they don’t want to see the same product and more of it—they want to see more of an assortment. Right. I often hear that retail buyers should be braver about trying new brands. Definitely. However, stepping out is a lot easier when business is good. You can take a lot of chances and you can bury a lot mistakes because you have something to offset it when you have a good business. When your tried and true garments aren’t selling, and you’re going to the market for margin assistance, it’s very difficult to try new things. But in my opinion, that’s the time to do things like that. Are you going to wait for things to be good? Then you will say, ‘What I’m doing is working. Why change it?’ When things aren’t working, that’s when you change your assortment and add new. After 30 years in the industry, what’s your favorite part of the job? Invoicing. [Laughs.] Actually, I really love what I do. Every day is something different. Some days are good, some days are horrible, but you just hope that there’s more of the former than the latter. I think that if you can do business in the apparel industry, you can do anything. • 2 0 1 4 J U N E • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 2 5

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and finding resources.” gone mostly unnoticed by the bulk of UP CLOSE WITH BARRY AND That sense of energy and enthusithe American middle class. “They’re MARK KOTTLER asm is exactly why Barry is excited to paying more for health insurance, show Mark the ropes. Yet while the the tennis courts every weekgasoline, rent and food, and they’re What’s your favorite movie? elder Kottler certainly has a trove of end. When I’m not on the tennot taking home any more money,” Barry: Pretty Woman. That, industry knowledge to impart to his nis courts, I love exploring the Kottler observes. and White Men Can’t Jump. new VP, he admits that he’s just as eager city. I’m curious by nature. With all that gloomy news, it wouldn’t Real deep movies. [Laughs.] I to learn as he is to teach. “He brings like to go to a movie and walk have been surprising for the industry a different mindset to the company,” What superpower would you out smiling. vet to rest on his laurels and enjoy a Barry says of Mark. “As we all get older love to have? Mark: I love any 1970s movie relaxing retirement. Instead, the selfwe become creatures of habit, and he Barry: I’d like to know what shot in New York City. My described workaholic launched BAK challenges me.” tomorrow is going to bring. favorite is The Taking of Apparel four years ago. Specializing in Mark: Teleporting, because Pelham 123 with Walter boys’ and girls’ special occasion wear, What’s the biggest change you’ve I’m really afraid of flying. the brand is sold under various labels Matthau and Robert Shaw. seen in the industry through the (Princess Faith and KatieM. for girls, That movie really tells the years? What three things could you Jeffrey Banks, BAK and Andrew Fezza story of New York. If the price of children’s apparel has never live without? for boys) at an array of top retailers, moved at all in the last 30 years, it’s Barry: Gatorade, pizza and including Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, What’s your favorite way to actually gone down. Costs have gone work. I couldn’t live without Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, Kohl’s, spend a free afternoon? up, but retail prices have not. There’s Von Maur, Cookie’s and K&G Fashion Barry: In the summer, golf and work. tremendous pressure because the Mark: My family, camera and Superstore, as well as The Bay and working out. In the winter, I consumer is not willing to pay a higher passport… but oatmeal raisin Winners in Canada. Three months love Saturday afternoon naps. price, so the retailer is squeezing the cookies are a close fourth. ago, the company acquired Samara, Mark: In the summer, I’m on manufacturers harder to get costs down a girls’ casual dress line that Kottler and the factory is in turn squeezing believes will help make BAK more of their suppliers. There’s a downward pressure on everything. a year-round business. While it can be easy to be blue about the industry’s recent challenges, And manufacturing costs in China continue to increase. a few things keep Kottler optimistic for the future. First are practical Yes, but I’m a creature of habit, so I’m staying in China. It’s not the observations: Unlike adult fashion, “The one thing we have in kids’ is cheapest place in the world to manufacture anymore, but I feel very planned obsolescence. The kid is going to outgrow the garment at some confident that the people I work with are going to deliver my product point,” he notes. In other words, moms need to return to the store every on time and the quality is going to be there. And my customers have year to outfit their growing brood. The second bright spot is his faith become accustomed to that quality. If I go into another country, I can in the BAK brands, as well as the Samara brand, all of which offer a buy it cheaper, but will I deliver it on time? What will the quality be great deal of quality and detail—think sequin appliques and rhinestone like? I could win the battle and lose the war. brooches—at a reasonable price point. (The special occasion wear wholesales for $6 to $20, while the girls’ casual dresses wholesale for How do you respond to these challenges? $5 to $8.) The third and most important ray of hope, however, comes One thing we refuse to do is alter the quality of our product. We will in the form of his new vice president—his son, Mark Kottler. not cut corners. Instead, we’re working with lower margins, so we have It’s Mark who convinced his father to look into creating an interactive to do more volume. That’s why I feel there will be fewer retailers and website for the brand, a prospect they both believe has a lot of potential manufacturers five years from now. Fortunately, we’re considered a niche to streamline business operations. “The websites that we see out there player. And if you continue to do what you do best and don’t try to be all are quite generic at best. What we’d like to create is a virtual showroom things to all people, then you have a pretty good chance of succeeding. where we can fine-tune presentations for any retailer,” Kottler describes. For Mark, it simply makes sense: “You can have a virtual look into the Do you think the market is oversaturated? showroom with someone a half a world away,” he points out. “Another I think it’s been oversaturated for quite a long time. There’s too much reason why the virtual showroom would be really good is that a lot of retail. I spoke to my factory yesterday, and there’s a lot of retail that’s our special occasion wear is completely cut to order, so we have a lot performing really horribly right now, at all levels. The consumer simply of customization options with patterns and colors. There are a lot of isn’t spending. They’re buying only what’s necessary. And that’s because different things we can show [in a virtual showroom] that we can’t just people who were previously making $35 to $50 an hour at their jobs are dump in a massive e-mail file. Hopefully it will cut down on back and now taking jobs for $10 an hour. Our middle class has gotten destroyed. forth e-mails to have it all in one central spot.” That’s really made those big box discounters more important. For Mark, a former journalist, the differences between the media and garment industries haven’t been as pronounced as he expected. So the rocky economy has led in part to the rise of the off-price “Journalism has become such an instant, multi-platform industry, retail segment? and clothing changes just as quickly as the news does,” he points out. Yes. And it’s hurting Macy’s, Dillard’s, Belk and Bloomingdale’s—the true “They’re both unpredictable. We don’t know what the next trend will be, department stores. Those buyers are really getting pressured because just like I don’t know who the next politician will be to be arrested. So the off-price stores are getting the same labels. But the off-price guys you can either sit around and await, or you can be proactive in scouring 2 0 1 4 J U N E • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 2 3

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are simply selling cheaper, and there’s no loyalty amongst the consumer. What’s happening in a lot of cases is the consumer is shopping the department store for the trends and then they’re going to T.J. Maxx and buying clothes at a fraction of the cost. And do they care if the fabric is a little lighter? All they know is one thing: It’s got the Ralph Lauren polo player or the Nautica sailboat. Brand recognition is important. But at the same time, people want to look fashionable. Price is important, but people also want more for less. With today’s younger parents and grandparents, there’s a real push for fashion, whether it’s color, fabric or design. I also think it’s a byproduct of the fact that there’s no sales help in the stores—the product really has to sell itself. And here comes H&M and Zara, who make disposable clothes. I always say that they give you the sizzle, but they don’t give you the steak. They’re going to give you spot-on trends, but don’t look for them to give you quality. Do you think the average consumer can spot quality? They can, but they kind of close their eyes to it—especially in kids. We live vicariously through our kids. When a mother takes her child to a party, that logo is status. She buys it is so her friends can see it and say, ‘Things must be okay at the Jones family, because little Johnny is wearing Polo.’ Nobody knows or cares where it was bought. Nobody is going over and saying, ‘Oh, that’s thinner than the polo that’s being sold for double the price at the department stores.’ Aside from brand name, what makes a garment stand out at retail? People want more details. Without the rhinestone and brooch details on

a Princess Faith dress, it would be a plain dress. But with those details, the consumer loves it. Those little added touches make the difference. Same goes for our Samara line, where we’re doing lots of appliqués. Of course, everything you add to the garment adds cost. It’s tricky because a retailer comes in to our showroom and they have a perception that those dresses should be $9.99, and you say, ‘Wow, maybe we’re putting too much into our garment.’ But you have to create a niche for yourself. You have to have a reason to exist. So we give more [detail on the garments], and we work a little closer on the margins. The problem is, once you create a price, it’s next to impossible to increase it. And in the retail world today, as you get more and more space with the department stores, your requirements on margin assistance—markdown money—become bigger. That’s also part of the reason why the big boxes have gotten bigger. The big box stores don’t ask for margin assistance? When you deal with T.J. Maxx or Ross, for example, they hit you hard up front [on pricing], and you’re basically done. There’s no backside assistance needed, unless there’s a complete disaster and the product just doesn’t sell. Then, when they come back for margin assistance, you say, ‘You really bought it at a close-out price upfront. There’s no room.’ So people have gravitated toward [off-price retailers], because it’s easier. I was talking to a department store buyer yesterday who was in the market looking for first-quarter margin assistance, and the store is getting about 40 percent of its request. And it’s not really a request; it’s a demand. If you don’t support them, you’re going to lose your position [in the store]. So, the question becomes, do you work at a higher margin up front with department stores, never quite knowing what your margin

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is actually going to be until the end? Or, you go to the big guys with the best possible price up front? That’s the million dollar question. How does a brand survive in that environment? I think at the end of the day it’s all about product. You have to give the consumer a good product at a fair value when they’re ready to buy. Then you have a good chance of doing business. If you’re not giving them quality product, and you’re not priced right and they’re not in the market to buy, then your product is not going to sell. Case in point: January and February of this year. There was no business. People just weren’t in the stores. They had no appetite for spring. Do you think it would help if the retail calendar shifted? When I went to school, you bought your entire wardrobe in August, and you were done. It wasn’t about what the cool kids were wearing; we didn’t go to school in shorts in September. Today, kids are going to school wearing the shorts they wore all summer. Even for schools with uniforms, moms used to go out and buy five pair of pants and five knit shirts—one for every day of the week. Now, they buy two or three, and when those fall apart, they’ll replace it. In the end they may buy more, but up front, they’re not doing it. But the retailer has to be ready Aug. 1, because what if that strategy changes? You have to be prepared. Another problem is that Macy’s, for example, has 800 stores nationwide. After they take inventory in January, they have to either be rid of the fall/winter merchandise to make room for spring, or they’re going to send it back. They’re not putting it in the back room anymore. So, there has to be a cut off. Is it later? Perhaps. There’s no easy answer.

www.snapperrock.com

T: 410 280 2364

What advice would you offer retailers looking to stay competitive? I often see retailers take product from the smaller stores that aren’t performing and put it into their bigger doors. Unfortunately, all they are doing is buying more of the same for those big doors, rather than changing their assortment. In my conversations with the Macy’s and Dillard’s of the world, I tell them to bring in an additional, different assortment for those top doors. The customer is coming in constantly, and they don’t want to see the same product and more of it—they want to see more of an assortment. Right. I often hear that retail buyers should be braver about trying new brands. Definitely. However, stepping out is a lot easier when business is good. You can take a lot of chances and you can bury a lot mistakes because you have something to offset it when you have a good business. When your tried and true garments aren’t selling, and you’re going to the market for margin assistance, it’s very difficult to try new things. But in my opinion, that’s the time to do things like that. Are you going to wait for things to be good? Then you will say, ‘What I’m doing is working. Why change it?’ When things aren’t working, that’s when you change your assortment and add new. After 30 years in the industry, what’s your favorite part of the job? Invoicing. [Laughs.] Actually, I really love what I do. Every day is something different. Some days are good, some days are horrible, but you just hope that there’s more of the former than the latter. I think that if you can do business in the apparel industry, you can do anything. • 2 0 1 4 J U N E • E A R N S H AW S . C O M 2 5

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Derhy Kids fur jacket, Alivia Simone leather-accented top, striped skirt by Miss Behave, TicTacToe tights distressed by stylist, crown by Pageant Supplier, Rolf Bleu stacked bike chain bracelets, stylist’s studded cuff.


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Butterflies & Zebras quilted motorcycle jacket, Wildfox fleur-de-lis tee over mesh shirt by Malibu Sugar, ILoveGorgeous skirt, tights by TicTacToe, Dr. Martens patent boots. Opposite: Betsey Johnson cropped jacket, Alivia Simone blouse, jogging pants by Submarine.

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Suoak embellished dress, Ban.do headband, Sensylo by Laura Farbiarz plastic tube bangles, Rolf Bleu bike chain bracelets. Opposite: Appaman blazer, Laundry by Shelli Segal pin, Reina Mora printed blouse, tulle skirt by Un Deux Trois, Lollipop Twirl metallic leggings, Converse sneakers, stylist’s cuff.

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Tru Luv gem-embellished T-shirt worn over Malibu Sugar long-sleeve mesh top, Appaman shorts, TicTacToe tights, Dr. Martens boots. Opposite: Kiddo embellished long-sleeve shirt, Ban.do bobbi pin.

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Suoak tunic, Eddie Pen skinny jeans, boots by Dr. Martens, stylist’s armband. Opposite: Wildfox sweatshirt, ILoveGorgeous leopard print skirt and collar, tights by TicTacToe, Pageant Supplier scepter. Hair & Makeup: Alfred Lester, Utopia.

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BEHIND THE SEAMS APPAREL

Sweet Talk

Old-World charm meets modern day comfort in Dollcake’s designs.

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HRISTINA CAMPBELL DOESN’T tend to keep an eye on flashy fads or fashion trends. The New Zealand-born owner, designer and founder of Dollcake prefers to keep her designs elegant, old-fashioned and timeless, true to her original vision for the brand she launched in 2002. “I like to offer pieces that are feminine and flowing, keeping girls age appropriate,” she describes. Delicate lace, ruffles and other girl-approved accents adorn her pastel dresses and accessories that little princesses can’t help but give a twirl. Based in New Zealand, the brand landed stateside in 2011, and is now carried in more than 100 stores in the U.S. and U.K. But it all began when Campbell, a seamstress, started crafting an outfit a week for each of her three children. In 2000, her neighbor took an interest in the clothes and took a few examples to sell to her coworkers. “She came back that evening with $500, and that was that,” Campbell recalls. At first, Campbell hand crafted each and every order, selling her wares on a basic website. Word-of-mouth helped the brand expand initially, but the biggest boost came when Campbell listed her designs on TradeMe, a New Zealand-based site similar to eBay. When she moved to Melbourne in 2007, she decided to trademark the brand and design a wholesale collection, with plans to hand-make every frock like she had in the past. But, Campbell happily reports, 24 wholesale requests in just two weeks made that idea impossible. Now, the collection is manufactured in China. While Dollcake is best known for its whimsical special occasion dresses, Campbell recently introduced swimwear to the line for Spring/ Summer ’15. She’s no stranger to designing it, however. “A swimsuit was the first item I made and sold back in the day,” she says. “It’s been so fun to create and design, and it’s given me an opportunity to add a little more pop and color.” She’s also focusing on adding more newborn, christening and flower girl garb into the line for Spring/Summer ’15 as well as balletstyle slippers that coordinate with Dollcake’s Spring/Summer ’15 pieces. Dollcake’s line of dresses, skirts, pants, tops and accessories wholesale from $10 to $60 and range in size from newborn to age 12. Campbell says the brand gives young girls and tweens exactly what they’re looking for in fun, fancy, vintage-tinged frocks while keeping them comfy in stretchy cotton. “I truly think girls want to feel beautiful and be able to dance and swirl,” she notes. “But they want to feel comfortable at the same time. Each design definitely has a whimsical feel and look to it, offering overflowing frills and ruffles for girls to gladly lose themselves in.” — Samantha Sciarrotta

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Silk Road

How a signature fabric helped catapult girls’ brand Imoga into Barneys.

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FTER LAUNCHING IMOGA in 2005, creative director HeaJung Chung struggled with getting the line off the ground. A decade as a knitwear designer gave her plenty of experience in fashion, but kids’ apparel was uncharted territory. “It took a few years to really learn what the market is looking for,” she recalls. “There are millions of brands, so you have to be unique. But how?” A few years later, Chung cracked the code when she and her team developed Imoga’s signature fabric, a milky, synthetic material that she notes is perfect for kids with dry skin. Its silky, super-soft feel appealed to retailers, too, who started picking up the product. Pretty soon consumers followed suit, and about four years after its initial launch, the line was a hit. Now, Imoga is carried in more than 300 stores across Europe, Asia and the United States—including Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys. “A lot of kids are wearing our materials because they feel good. They’re playful and comfortable,” Chung notes. Even in the beginning, Chung wasn’t a total novice when it came to kidswear, thanks to her two daughters, Olivia and Julia. In fact, she was inspired to launch Imoga after too many shopping trips that

ended in disappointment. It was difficult for Chung to find outfits that weren’t covered in elaborate adornments, and, “I wanted something easy and comfortable,” she remembers. Along came Imoga. Originally an innerwear line, Chung gradually added pieces like sweaters and other knits, eventually turning the brand into a full collection of tees, dresses, bottoms and more for girls’ sizes 2 to 14. “We started very slow in the beginning,” Chung recalls. “I didn’t really know what kids’ buyers were looking for. I started designing what I wanted to design, but I realized it wasn’t about my taste.” Now, Chung has mastered Imoga’s recipe for success, with a collection that includes everything from floral skirts and leggings to bright pants with eyelet details and T-shirts with butterfly and princess prints. Manufactured in China with a wholesale price ranging from $20 to $50, each dress comes with a matching necklace specifically designed with the piece in mind. And as the brand continues to expand, Chung is introducing special occasion outfits for Spring/Summer ’15. “We’re introducing new novelty fabrics,” she reveals. “A lot of sequins, a lot of colors.” —S.S.

PRET-a- PARTY Calling confident girls 8-14 years

www.stellamlia.com 203.559.7677

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[ON THE BLOCK]

What’s Selling at Connie’s? Bestselling for girls: Isobella & Chloe for all size ranges, infant up to 14 years. Bestselling for boys: Little Me or Offspring for infants and Puma and Under Armour for bigger boys. Bestselling shoes: Sperry Top-Sider. Bestselling accessories: Bows Arts. Best new brand added to your store’s mix in the past year? Mud Pie. Biggest challenge facing your business? The Internet. Do you sell any baby gear? No. I just never wanted to be in that business. How about toys? Not really. We carry a small amount of Melissa & Doug. What’s your outlook for this back-to-school season? With the economy on the up and our Internet business taking off, I do believe we will surpass last year’s sales. How important are American-made brands with respect to your customers’ buying decisions? I have a few customers that ask for American-made brands but not a lot. I don’t seem to have any problems selling items made outside the U.S.A. I think people understand the prices would be much higher for items made in the U.S.A.

continued from page 17

pride in their community as they do in Connie’s and its clientele, hosting a carefully selected roster of activities such as shoetying classes for kindergarteners, a clown during the Merchants Association’s annual festival and after-hours shopping parties for local schools. “For whatever [the school kids] buy during those couple of hours, I donate 10 percent back to the school,” she explains. It’s exactly that sort of community-centric attitude that’s kept Connie’s register ringing since its doors first opened six decades ago. So what’s the secret sauce of staying power? According to Kort, it’s simple: Listen to your customers. “What a lot of people don’t understand is when you’re a buyer, you can’t necessarily buy what you like or what you would put on your own child; you have to figure out what the area is into,” she says. It’s a tried and true tactic that’s helped the store stay competitive despite the ups and downs of the market. She adds, “People know that when they come to Connie’s they’re going to find something unique, different and beautiful—something they’re not going to find at a department store.” •

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JULY 2014

THE PARTY ISSUE! HIGHLIGHTS: A STYLISH SOIRÉE Come prepared to party! From snazzy special occasion wear on our fashion pages to glitzy gifts throughout, this issue has it all. HOME GROWN Today’s consumers continue to gravitate toward made-in-the-U.S.A. merchandise. We reveal why the category is still going strong, and how to ride the wave. CHRISTMAS IN JULY Don’t miss this month’s On the Shelf page, for a very merry array of children’s gifts, decor and accessories for Holiday ’14.

A STEP ABOVE Advertise in Earnshaw’s and place your brand message in front of 15,000 childrenswear buyers and professionals. Brand impression is everything today, and we can make sure your message remains top of mind within the industry.

PHOTOGRA PH BY AUGU STUS BUTE RA

SO MUCH MORE… The voice of the children’s fashion industry for 97 years, Earnshaw’s is the go-to resource for thousands of children’s apparel retailers and manufacturers, who rely on the magazine for the best in children’s fashion and retail news.

Ad Close: 6/13 Materials Close: 6/16 Bonus distribution: Atlanta Gift & Home Market, NY NOW, Swimshow Miami, NYC Showrooms, earnshaws.com

ER_July_PartyPromo_.indd 39

Contact: Noelle Heffernan (646) 278-1531 noelle.heffernan@9threads.com for advertising rates, sponsorships and custom publication opportunities.

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stargazing

What the A-list love at… Zibalee, New York City

Locally-made favorite Winter Water Factory is popular in the shop and with celeb moms like Alyson Hannigan, who outfits her kids in the brand’s colorful prints.

From tulle dresses to Princess Leia tees, this eclectic East Village boutique offers a bright and bold mix for the city’s trendiest tots. By Samantha Sciarrotta

Halle Berry and her daughter Nahla love Beatrix’s lunch bags, available at Zibalee.

Gwen Stefani’s son Kingston is often spotted rocking Appaman threads. The brand is one of the store’s top sellers.

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dam Kirszner often had a front row seat when it came to learning about the hottest trends in kidswear. Thanks to his two tween daughters and a wife that works in fashion, Kirszner accrued a ton of firsthand knowledge through the years. So after leaving the corporate world in 2009, he decided to put what he had learned to good use, opening Zibalee in the fall of 2010. “I wanted to be my own boss,” he recalls. “I was interested in retail, and it seemed like a good idea to focus on something that I was familiar with.” He chose Manhattan’s East Village because it fit the “funky, scruffy” vibe he wanted his store to embody. The boutique initially catered to older kids, but Zibalee eventually expanded to include baby brands when customers started asking Kirszner for infant and toddler apparel. And while his clothing and

accessories range in size, they do have one thing in common: They all reflect the cool, city-kid style that New York City youngsters love. “We think there’s a difference between the way kids dress in Manhattan and Brooklyn and the way they dress in the suburbs,” he notes. “That’s not to knock Old Navy and The Children’s Place and even tween brands, but it’s just a different set of choices here. We think city kids are the coolest.” To back that up, Zibalee carries celeb-favored brands like Appaman, Splendid and Nununu. Tea Collection, Pop Kids and Charlie Rocket are also top sellers, while locally-made favorites like Winter Water Factory and PHJ Mini are always popular. Kirszner says he carries around 20 different brands at a time. “Every season, we’ll cycle out one or two just to keep things fresh and interesting,” he adds. “We look for stuff that no one else is carrying.” •

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Š1976, 2014 SANRIO CO., LTD. Used Under License.

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Earnshaw's | June 2014  

Pretty in Pink: Tweens Reign Supreme | A Michigan Mainstay Turns 60 | The Next Generation of BAK Apparel | Fall's Hottest Licensed Propertie...

Earnshaw's | June 2014  

Pretty in Pink: Tweens Reign Supreme | A Michigan Mainstay Turns 60 | The Next Generation of BAK Apparel | Fall's Hottest Licensed Propertie...